Former Arizona football standout Julius Holt, the commissioner of the Tucson Youth Football and Spirit Federation, held a meeting late Thursday night involving coaches and team presidents at New Stitch in the Sunset Villa neighborhood in Tucson’s southside.
The scene was fitting in the small room, similar to a living room at the small embroidery establishment, because of the family atmosphere involved with Holt’s operation.
Holt, a linebacker/defensive tackle for the Wildcats in 1981 and 1982, went over many different guidelines with the group related to Saturday’s city championship games at Tucson High School, beginning at 8 a.m. with the 8-and-under title game between the Dolphins and the Rams to the 13U championship between the Dolphins and Raiders at 6 p.m.
Topics covered by Holt ranged from the new trophies to crowd control to how the group is rallying behind the family of Sahuarita 49ers 12U assistant coach Juan Gonzalez, who suffered a heart attack and passed away at 34 years old during the last couple of minutes of last week’s game in Sahuarita.
Counseling is being provided to the young players who were there at Walden Grove High School and fund-raising projects are underway for the family that includes wife Jamie and children AJ, 13, Jaylyn, 11, and Issak, 9. Holt told the coaches and presidents that the family’s income situation may force them to move out of their house because Gonzalez’s wife was recently laid off from her work.
A Go Fund Me account has been set up in addition to the TYFSF fund-raising efforts.
“We’ve asked our associations to donate what they can,” Holt said. “He was a very well-liked man, a very good coach. The kids loved him. He had a good rapport with his coaching staff. We’re going to miss him.
“It takes a lot to be a volunteer (like Gonzalez) at this level. You commit yourself to working with kids three days out of the week and then in the offseason. What we’re trying to do now is do the best that we can to make sure that his family has some comfort … All our associations, all 15 of them, have stepped up and donated money.”
Holt added that a fundraising event for the Gonzalez family will take place at Redskins Park (Pueblo High School) on Nov. 10. More details of the event will come soon.
“We’re inviting everybody to come,” Holt said. “The 49ers and Redskins players will get together and just bond with fellowship and talk to each other because they’re friends. This is a family, a family program.”
Sahuarita’s coach George Rushing said the team will play in the championship on Saturday at 4 p.m. against the Oro Valley Dolphins. He consulted Gonzalez’s wife, who told him Gonzalez would want the game to go on and his son to play.
The championship schedule Saturday (all games at Tucson High School):
8U: Dolphins vs. Rams, 8 a.m.
9U: Steelers vs. Rams, 10 a.m.
10U: Scorpions vs. Broncos, 12 p.m.
11U: Falcons vs. Raiders, 2 p.m.
12U: 49ers vs. Dolphins, 4 p.m.
13U: Dolphins vs. Raiders, 6 p.m.